I Want My Hat Back
I am not the screaming and fainting type, but if I ever got a chance to meet Jon Klassen, I would be starstruck. I am not sure how to best describe my obsession with Klassen’s work without coming across as a delirious fan – his work is mind blowing! Keep reading…
To celebrate such talent, B is for Books is dedicating the whole month of November to one of my favorites, Jon Klassen.
I Want My Hat Back, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen has been featured on every children’s book blog that I have come across and for good reason, I Want My Hat Back was named by the New York Times as one of the best illustrated children’s books of 2011. It is a seemingly simple story about a bear looking for his hat. The bear patiently and politely questions every animal he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Feeling disheartened with no leads, the bear tries to recount what his hat looks like when he realizes one of the animals has lied to him. He has seen his hat. Revenge is his. The lying animal suffers his due. Lying and taking revenge are not commendable behaviors, but it is a very honest depiction of human emotions. A lesson for young readers: never lie, especially to a bear.
Designed for young readers, the story is really easy to follow with its repetitive sentence structure and large set type (New Century Schoolbook). The composition is also really easy to follow, each scene devoid of any background or excessive detail, just a couple of animals standing around. The illustrations are created with Chinese ink and then cleaned up digitally. I love, love, LOVE the colouration and the subtle textures created by the ink. Illustrated on soft creamy paper, I Want My Hat Back cleverly uses colours to format the sentence structure; all the text in black is spoken by bear, and all the other text corresponds with the colour of the animal, i.e. turtle’s lines are all green. Klassen intentionally kept everything subtle, choosing not to draw an angry bear (which would have been cliché) but instead his muted colour palette shifts to an angry red and he capitalizes the text. Don’t be fooled by its understated appearance; I Want My Hat Back is full of subtle design choices that reflect sophistication.
I Want My Hat Back,a children’s book review by Thao Lam
A fellow Canadian, Jon Klassen was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1981 and grew up in Niagara Fall, Ontario. He studied animation at Sheridan College (I graduated from Sheridan’s illustration program – with so much in common I can’t see why we can’t be best friends). Upon graduation he moved to Los Angeles to work some very impressive animation projects; Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and Kung Fu Panda. He was also the art director for U2’s animated video for I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight.
Publisher Candlewick (Sep 27 2011)